Signaling both frustration with Massachusetts property owners and pride in the hardiness of New Englanders, the state's high court today threw out the rules that have guided slip and fall lawsuits linked to winter for some 125 years.
In a unanimous ruling written by Justice Ralph Gants, the Supreme Judicial Court said judges and juries will no longer have to puzzle out the legal distinction between icy conditions caused by nature, and those caused artificially as, for example, when a snowplow driver attacks the snow.
"It is not reasonable for a property owner to leave snow or ice on a walkway where it is reasonable to expect that a hardy New England visitor would choose to risk crossing the snow or ice rather than turn back or attempt an equally or more perilous walk around it,''
Gants wrote as he laid out the reasoning for undoing the legal precedent in use in Massachusetts courts since 1883 and 1885.
The court said its rules take effect immediately and will also apply retroactively to pending lawsuits.
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